National identity, which is the identification of people with the historical and cultural traditions, moral values, ideals, and beliefs of their nation, serves as one of the factors that ensure the connection between people and their homeland.
Throughout the whole history of their existence, nations form their identities. However, some peoples do not place equal importance on different periods of their history when explaining the origins of their national identity. While emphasizing one part of their history and its cultural heritage, they often don’t pay enough attention to the other period of their existence with its cultural and social significance. This way, people lack awareness about their identity, its origins, and therefore might face difficulties while explaining some aspects of their life since national identity impacts their behavior.
Having a rich and ancient history, Armenia, a country of Transcaucasia that is bounded by Georgia and Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey, is famous for being the first state that established Christianity as a state religion in 301 AD. This historical milestone encourages Armenian people to focus mostly on their Christian cultural heritage to the detriment of their Pagan culture, which was widely spread before the country was converted into Christianity.
Armenian Pagan heritage, however, is not well known for another specific reason, which is the limited number of surviving sources. Armenian writing and literature were founded at the beginning of the fifth century after Mesrop Mashtots created the Armenian alphabet. By that time, for more than a hundred years, Christianity had already been the official religion of the state, and the footsteps of Pagan beliefs, such as tales, songs, gods, and temples, had been destroyed and forbidden to be documented.
Nevertheless, some ancient Armenian and non-Armenian sources contain very specific references to these Pagan elements and artifacts. Likewise, a number of scientific works provide rather detailed descriptions of the discoveries in the field of archival and ethnographic research, aimed at collecting and preserving the collection of Armenian legends, which, in spite of the scholars' determination, are not receiving enough attention.
The legends and myths of Armenia, not being as acknowledged as other genres of Armenian folklore, also play an essential role in the formation of national identity and the identity of a place. Therefore, the unfortunate unawareness of the cultural heritage of the Pagan period in Armenian history and unfamiliarity with Armenian legends may serve as a reason for the inability of people to understand their Armenian identity clearly and answer some questions related to their daily life.
One of the main, but little-studied issues, on which ancient Armenian mythology and legends are able to shed light, concerns the explanation of the connection that exists between Armenians and the lands (territories) of their residence, both in the past and in present. Associating this connection exclusively with the Christian heritage and not assuming that Pagan mythology and legends can be perceived as no less significant factors in this matter, Armenians, thereby, artificially impoverish the centuries-old history and culture of the Armenian ethnicity.